Buying a new table? Our top tips

Newsletter Article, Autumn 2013

Bespoke Oak Table

When youíre buying a new dining table itís easy to fall in love with something online or in store, only to discover itís totally unsuitable for your space when itís delivered.† It can happen with commissioned pieces too if your designer doesnít advise you on what will and wonít work in the space.† Or worse still Ė doesnít visit your home.

There is quite a lot to consider when buying a table but follow our tips and you wonít go far wrong.

Room layout1) Layout

Before you go shopping do a quick assessment of the room.† Draw and measure out the area and work out how people will move around the space.† Make a mental note of the style and material of the existing furniture and dťcor or better still take a few snaps on your phone.

If you are commissioning a table, make sure your designer visits your home.† We always discuss our clientsí ideas in the space the piece of furniture is intended for.† We believe itís the only way to design and make the perfect piece.

2) Shape

Most often the shape of the table will be obvious from the shape of the room but if your choice isnít dictated, consider the following:

  • Smallish round, or square tables are great for small social gatherings: everyone can chat together easily.
  • Rectangular tables are good for more formal occasions because someone can be at the head.
  • Square or rectangular tables are space saving and there are more extendable versions of both styles on the market than round or oval.
  • Large oval tables can look great in large spaces, but bear in mind itís more difficult to have conversations across the table.

2) Size: the critical dimensions

Itís so important to choose a table thatís comfortable to sit at.† That means having enough elbow space and being able to push your chair back to get out. Table dimensions

The minimum you can get away with is 52 cm for each place setting and 61 cm between the table and the wall.† The ideal table would allow 60 cm and 90 cm, respectively.†

For rectangular tables, the minimum width we recommend is 90cm, which allows space in the middle for serving.

The ideal height for most people is around 72 cm although it will depend on the height of the seating of course.†

3) Comfort

  • Few things are more frustrating that a wobbly table! †Itís a sign of poor quality, so try it out.† Sit down at the table, lean your body weight onto it and rock your elbows from side to side.† It shouldnít move.†
  • Check whether your knees hit the structures under the table top.† Ideally †there should be at least 64 cm from the floor to the bottom of the table top.
  • Check whether the structure of the table base obstructs the movement of your feet or legs: especially if you intend seating people at either end.†† ††

4) Materials and finishes

  • If you want a wooden table, choose a solid hardwood.† Steer clear of tables made of softwoods such as pine, as they will dent very easily - unless you like the shabby look of course!
  • Avoid dark colours such as walnut in smaller, darker rooms.† Choose glass or a light wood or stone if you want to maximise the feeling of space and light in a room.
  • If youíre environmentally minded (like we are), stick to commercially grown woods rather than protected or exotic woods.†
  • We mostly recommend oiled finishes for wooden tables, as they can be sanded back and re-oiled to look like new.† Lacquered and glossy finishes scratch easily and canít be repaired.

5) Quality

Of course you expect your table to last Ė especially if youíre spending a fair amount of money.† Our advice is to choose a table with a solid structure and a surface that will still look good with daily use.†

  • We always recommend solid hardwoods - at least 2.5 cm thick for our wooden table tops, but many manufacturers use wood veneers (thin slivers of wood) or plastic laminates printed to look like wood - even for pieces with a high price tag.

    These can be as thin as 0.5 mm bonded to a cheap substrate such as MDF or chipboard both on the surface and edges.† With use, the edges inevitably start to peel off and the surface will get chipped to reveal the cheap material underneath.† And unfortunately, it canít be repaired.† So do find out before you buy whether the surface is made of solid or veneered timber.
  • If you want an extending table, open it out to make sure itís not too cumbersome and that the runners glide smoothly. Check the hinges and stabilisers are strong and remain sturdy when you put pressure on the table-top.
  • Any well-made piece of furniture should come with a decent guarantee, so make sure you check this before you buy.

Of course the best way to make sure you get exactly the right table for your space and needs, in the materials you want, is to commission one.† Weíll visit your home, take a good look at the room, and listen to your ideas. Then weíll come up with a 3D design so you can get a good idea of how it will look.

The first design is free with no obligation so do contact us on 020 8942 3021† - we look forward to hearing from you. †You can see a slideshow of some of our bespoke tables here.

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